Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Indigenous welcome as Parliament resumes -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

TONY JONES: He promised to say sorry and tomorrow Kevin Rudd will deliver.

The Prime Minister will apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and
Governments which inflicted profound grief on Indigenous Australians.

The National Act of Contrition will come after today's opening of Parliament. An event steeped in
Aboriginal tradition.

From Canberra, Dana Robertson reports.

DANA ROBERTSON: Ancient rights for a new Parliament. On a day devoted to symbolism and change, this
was the most potent of all. For the first time in more than 80 years, the tradition owners of the
Canberra region welcomed MPs and Senators to their country.

MATILDA HOUSE, TRADITIONAL OWNER: I welcome you, the elected representatives of every part of this
nation. I acknowledge the trust given to you on behalf of all Australians to represent our
interest.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: It's taken 41 Parliaments to get here. We can be a bit slow sometimes.
But we got here.

BRENDAN NELSON, OPPOSITION LEADER: I don't think the opening of our Parliaments will ever be the
same again, and that is good.

DANA ROBERTSON: But despite the break with the past, there's still unfinished business.

KEVIN RUDD: Today we begin with one small step to set right, the wrongs of the past.

DANA ROBERTSON: Another even bigger stride will be made tomorrow. And tonight the words are out on
just how Kevin Rudd with apologise to the Stolen Generations.

KEVIN RUDD: I formally give notice of the terms of a motion for an apology to the Stolen
Generations that I will move tomorrow.

DANA ROBERTSON: Not only will Mr Rudd say sorry, he'll say it three times. At 9:00am tomorrow the
Prime Minister will tell Parliament, "For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations,
their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. To the mothers and the fathers,
the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And
for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say
sorry."

The Oppositions confirmed it will support the motion. But some Indigenous leaders are disappointed
that it doesn't explain why children were taken away.

MICHAEL MANSELL, ABORIGINAL ACTIVIST: That will not explain to the victims why it was they were
targeted. And the one thing that the victims want to know is why me? Why was I targeted all those
years ago? And why was it that my life was destroyed as a result?

DANA ROBERTSON: And Indigenous protesters on the streets today in Canberra were furious at what
they believe are the continuing human rights abuses of the Northern Territory Intervention.

Tomorrow Kevin Rudd will ask that the apology be received in the spirit of healing the nation and
with the resolve that the injustices of the past must never happen again. But the motion doesn't
end with just saying sorry, it also commits to addressing Indigenous disadvantage.

It's a point the Government emphasised in the Governor General's speech to open Parliament.

MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY, GOVERNOR GENERAL: Closing the 17-year life expectancy gap within a
generation, halving the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade
and halving the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements within a decade.

DANA ROBERTSON: The vice regal outline of the new Governments agenda helped meld the age-old
traditions of two cultures.

HARRY JENKINS, SPEAKER: I shall be glad if honourable members will accompany me to the Senate
Chamber.

DANA ROBERTSON: Today, both sides were holding their fire. But by lunch time tomorrow it'll be
hostilities as usual when the Government introduces its new Workplace Legislation and the new-look
theatre of Question Time begins.

Dana Robertson, Lateline.